Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Joel and I want to wish each of you peace.....
the kind of peace that comes from knowing Jesus as your Savior.  
The kind of peace that comes from knowing His Word and 
His promises are true.

The kind of peace that comes from the love of family and friends. 
From counting the many blessings we have.
The peace that brings us hope.

Our family will start arriving tomorrow and we are so excited to have them here.  
It is a rare occasion to have our children, in-loves, and grands here together
 on Christmas Eve and Day,
so we look forward to gathering with most of our awesome family.  
One comes for the day on Saturday.

Even to worship with our family on Christmas Eve is such a treat!
We pray that each of you embrace peace...the peace that comes from being wrapped in 
God's love, His protection, and His joy.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you all from our corner of Iowa where snow is absent but not the cold!  The  low last night was 8 degrees.....I have been enjoying my "Woolie" comforter and wool socks the past couple of days.  The temperatures are going up again soon, so it will end up being an unseasonsably warm Christmas.  We'll take it!

Even with the warm weather, I have not been out walking.  The radiation treatments kind of took their toll the final two weeks.  Radiation won a few of the last rounds, but I will be back on my feet soon.  I finished a day early on this past Wednesday, and have been spending a lot of time resting, sleeping, and doing what I can to heal my skin and restore my immune system.

Burns are bad, thank God for the burn cream with lidocaine and steroids.  The doctor told me he did not think there would be any scarring in the 45-50 square inches of second degree burns I have. Anyone who knows me knows I hate taking or using medications, so for me to be thankful, means the pain is nasty.  BUT the skin looks better where the "boost" of radiation did not go the past two weeks so we know that in another month I will be walking my miles, wearing a bra, and seeing all new skin.  For now we watch the skin fall off and give thanks for the burn cream, the privilege to rest all I need, and for the healing power of our bodies through God.   Just like a lot of people, we both have been fighting a sinus/chest/cough type thing, too, but we are getting over that.

Several of the family come Christmas Eve, another family Christmas Day, and then one more for the 26th.  Joel is doing quite a bit of the work to prepare although I did get the cards out (120), and have helped some with cooking, cleaning, shopping.  MOST importantly, we will be together.  The rest is just "gravy".  I can hardly wait to hug on everyone!!!

I have been reading light and hope-filled stories and watching a lot of the Hallmark channel and their Christmas movies.  NCIS has been on the USA channel a lot this week, too.....just what I needed.  I have watched only a couple of teachings and listened to some of our favorite Christmas music.  Like our old Alabama Christmas cd.......and Kenny G..........and Pinterest too.

Using the keyboard makes me pretty uncomfortable, so this will be short.  As we all prepare for another celebration of Christmas, I cannot help but give thanks for each sunrise and sunset.  Hope and pray your preparations are going well and that joy and peace reign during this busy week.

Until next time...................

Sunday, December 13, 2015

"Be Still"

I was writing a couple of posts on two of the words we hear so often this time of year~~~peace and joy.   I'm needing a whole lot of that myself.  Alas, the posts are not finished.  The past three days have been very challenging.  Having lived with pain from Lyme damage for the past 30 years, I am quite surprised by how much the pain from the second degree burns is affecting me.  A part of me wants to describe it it looks and feels.  What I'm going through. It is not a constant pain......unless I move, wash, apply creams, blow air on raw skin, etc.  Ha!  It gives new meaning to the words, "be still" and know that I am God". Hmmmmm.  At least I haven't lost all my humor or my mind.

To help myself, I've decided to take a break from blogging and other activities as I focus on this last week of radiation and my body's needs.  Your prayers are much appreciated.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Remembering The Good News

I am thinking people are as weary of my long saga with breast cancer treatment as I am, so after today I plan on just brief updates.  I am recording this for myself as much as others.

I hit a wall this weekend with a big loss of energy and it has not returned.  I am peeling alot under my breast and oozing and bleeding.  It is painful and not pretty.  I am now using telfa non-adherent pads to soak up the oozing.  Add to that a sinus issue that has me getting dizzy when I lay down or sit up and I am feeling pretty beat up.  Yesterday they had to remap and it took 45 minutes.  It is hard not to move a muscle when you lay on a very hard table and your head is on a hard object pressing on the bone behind my ear.  I was so dizzy, hurting, and exhausted.  It just sent me over the edge.

Thus the crying yesterday when I was talking to the nurse.  Seriously not cool.  I also saw the doctor yesterday and he may delay the remaining 7 treatments a couple days which means I would be having treatments Christmas week.  That stinks.  Our family is coming.  He wanted me on pain meds and I said no.  He wanted me on steroids and I said no.  I am using a lidicaine/silverdene cream for burn patients. Yeah, am feeling pretty beat up.  But please remember that this does not happen to everyone.  Skin issues happen but not always to this extent.  My body had 27 years of Lyme and recovery was not 100%  when I started this journey.

It is the Christmas season, and I am trying to hold on to the joy.  The good news is this is almost over. The good news is I am done with full breast treatments and they are just targeting the tumor area. The good news is this will end, I will heal, and I will be myself again.

And most importantly, the good news is that Christmas is coming and Jesus is still King!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you on this warm winter day in Iowa.  We are heading for close to 50 today, amazing for December.  We'll take it!  The forecast is for more on the same for the next week, which is great since we like walking outside so much.  We have walked with temperatures as low as 30 degrees,  but below that it too cold with wind chills factored in.

So, we have walked every day this week, which is my goal during treatments.  Mostly we are walking the paths as the roads are a bit more icy in spots.  It melts during the day but freezes back up at night. We have not seen any deer but have had to avoid their droppings on the trail.  We have seen several robins which is weird.  They should all be heading south.  Maybe, like us, something in life interfered with their plans!

Mostly this week we shopped some, spent time every day at the cancer center, and walked the paths here in the association.  I have been sleeping 9 or more hours every night!  Guess the body needs it. Joel has had meetings with the stewardship job he is doing for a local church, and I headed off to Bible Study on Thursday morning. We saw the doctor twice and yesterday he spent a great deal of time explaining to us in more detail what radiation does, why it is used, and how it works.  Due to major skin issues he is giving me only one more full breast treatment and then we will focus only on the tumor area until the end of my designated time.  That will give other areas of the breast time to start healing.  Yay.  He is a great doctor, patient, detailed in his explanations, and concerned with his patients.  Excited about what he does to help others live a full life.  Blessed to have him on our team.

We put up and decorated our tree last Sunday.  We ended up with a 9 foot tree which cost only $30. Joel did have to go up on the half landing to put our angel on the top.  We purchased her 40 years ago in the Philippines.  The decorations are out, the Christmas music is playing and I have started writing out Christmas cards.  We had so much to share, it is more like a novel this year than a newsletter!!  Ha.....

I cannot help but think about all those who are suffering the loss of loved ones, their innocence, and peace of mind this season due to the violence that occurred this week in CA.  Children experienced this horrible act of hatred too.  It has to end.  Hard questions need to be asked and answered.  Change needs to be embraced.  And our LOVING Father God needs to be welcomed into the lives of his creations.  We are made in His image.

So that brings us back to the reason for this season.  It was created to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior.  It was created as a time of worship and focus on the One who gave us life, and offers us life eternal.  It is about Jesus.

I am reading Beni Johnson's new book on health, Ann Voskamp's Advent devotional, and catching up on Guidepost and Angels magazines this week.  What are you reading?  I leave you today while singing along to Alabama's old Christmas CD.  We always listened to this as a family while decorating the tree. Sweet memories.....What is your favorite memory about decorating the tree?

Until next time..............

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Living Hope

As I pondered Bonnie Gray's  One Word Advent writing prompt for this week ~ hope ~  I found myself thinking about a statement I heard yesterday about hope. Bill Johnson of Bethel Church said, "If we embrace fear it will turn our hope into hopelessness."

There have been times during this season of my life that I have let fear take up residence and hopelessness has come to visit.

We were excited!  Our trip to Arizona last winter brought with it a desire to move there and begin a new ministry.  We felt called by God.  Retired.....we wanted to refire for our Lord.  We planned, purged, organized, and began to pack as we put our home on the market in the middle of August.  Just two weeks later during a routine physical and mammogram, it was discovered that I had breast cancer. We were stunned.  We took our home off the market immediately, and began to try to digest what my future, our future would hold.

Surgery followed and even with a good prognosis I am in the midst of 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week.  The side effects to my skin are starting to take their toll, and even though the end is in sight I began to think about all the what ifs that are ahead.  I began to wonder why, when God healed me of 27 years of Lyme Disease through prayer, I needed to have surgery and radiation for the cancer.  The more I pondered and questioned, the more fear set in and the more fear set in the more hopelessness seeped into my pores.  Yesterday I had a meltdown and what came out of my heart through my mouth was not pretty.  Our dreams looked so far away and near impossible.  This cancer diagnosis was not a surprise to God. We had prayed and prayed about moving.  So God, what was this about? Hopeless.  I felt hopeless.

But during this Advent season of remembering and waiting and preparing, we look to the One who has it all planned out.  We have living Hope that breathes life into us and helps us remember why Jesus came to earth.  He came for us.  Isaiah 53 tells us he suffered and died for our sins and for our sicknesses. The two are tied together and we cannot accept one without out considering the other.

Living Hope came into the world as a baby.  Every day we open our eyes to a new sunrise and we have hope.  Like Annie says, "The sun will come out tomorrow...."  And every day we open our eyes to God's Son, too.  Our living Hope.  Fear has no place when we remember that He has us, He is with us, He knows our future and He is our Hope.

"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. 
 Plans for good and not for evil.  
To give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11


In The Midst of it All

I woke up this morning after 9 1/2 hours of sleep and thought.....I don't really want to go to Bible study today.  I have no energy, I am down and out, and lets add a little "poor me" to that.  I hurt and I don't like going out in public without a bra.  Seriously, I am way to over-endowed for this kind of free living!  I told Joel I was not sure I was going and he said, "Well just ask Holy about it. "  I knew I was not in a good place when I resisted asking.......

I showered, dressed and then asked.  I asked Holy if He wanted me to go to Bible Study......He said, "It is up to you."  I then asked if it would help me if I went and before I could finish asking I got a strong, "Yes!"  Okay then.

I went in down and came out up.  Isn't that just how it goes when we study the Word, share with fellow believers, and are able to lay hands on and pray over those in need.  Hearing the faith stories of others is always uplifting.  Seeking wisdom found in His Word encourages.....Getting the perspectives of others enlightens.  Praying for others brings our focus on the One.  God is in the midst of His people.

.  This morning I saw on the TV a written statement concerning this latest mass murder in CA.  "GOD IS NOT FIXING THIS"  I don't know what it means and I am not so sure I want to know either.

Where is God in the midst of it all?  In the midst of a newborn baby who's brain is the midst of a waiting room with women suffering from the affects of the midst of a group of people celebrating Christmas who are gunned down by senseless the midst of it all.......

God is in the midst of it all.  It is much easier to see God at work in a room full of women studying prayer, and actively praying, then in the midst of a senseless  act of violence or a baby dying.  God does not want this baby dying, women suffering, mass murders.  NO.  It is Heever from God.  It is the enemy that has come to kill, steal, and destroy.  Not God.

God weeps with us.  I had someone ask me once where God was when I was being sexually abused as a young child.  I told this person that God was with me, holding my hand and crying with me.  God weeps today too.  He waits in expectation for us to seek Him.  God weeps with those who mourn the loss of life yesterday in CA.  He walks with those who endure the radiation in the hope of restoring their health, and provides the wisdom and care of the medical world.  He comforts the baby who's brain is dying.  He heals.

I don't pretend to have answers to the whys of sickness, disease, pain, abuse, and murder that comes against people.  BUT when the world seems to be losing its senses, when the enemy of God seems to be winning the battles, what I do have is His Word and His promises. And His Word is truth.  I do have His truth.  I hold tightly to His truth.  It is all there, inside those pages. And the truth sets us free.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

This Is Normal

"This is normal".  I have been waiting a long time to hear a doctor tell me those words.  Unfortunately they came with the skin issues I am having with the radiation.  Burning and peeling going on in places that should not burn or peel.  This past weekend things looked better and the coconut oil and lavender essential oil mix I used under my arm took away the sunburn and left a nice tan.  But after yesterday's radiation the skin flared up again in other places.  Especially under where the bra elastic fits.  So, now I am living like a braless hippie, and using a special compounded cream for burns with lidocaine added for the pain.  I am used to pain and did not think I needed it, but the doctor insisted and it will be nice not to deal with constant irritation and discomfort.  

So, being honest here, I asked Joel...."Where is the Wrap-Around-Shield God promised me?  Joel replied, "He is there, protecting your organs and keeping this from being really bad.  It may be what you stand on if the Dr. decides to shorten the treatments.  Dr. M. mentioned that today.  God does not go back on His promises."  Yes.  I am still standing firm on God's promises.  Not matter what.  If He promised to be my wrap-around-shield then that is what He is.

Joel was talking to another woman today who shared she has weird things happening during the radiation.  Another agreed.  One has a foot that gets really hot.  Another said that food tasted funny to her. One has burns under her arm that turned black.  I get chills and shake after some treatments.  And certain foods nauseate me.  Now, the nurses blow all this off, saying it is not connected, just burns and fatigue.  But here sat three of many women who are having weird things going on during treatments. Too bad the medical staff blows it off.  They may learn something.  For me, this was very helpful.  I have always felt the patients know more about what they experience than those who treat us.  Whether it is medication side effects or other things like radiation.  I have had only one doctor truly validate what I had to say with symptoms...our Lyme doctor and I think she is rare.

The only one I had to compare my journey to was my sister K. who had only some fatigue with her treatments. After talking to others I am realizing she is unusual and thank God she is......and for once I am normal. Giggle. I think this is one of those times I would rather be the "strange bird" my surgeon called me.

I have 12 treatments left, and wish it was over......But for now, I am staying warm with the fireplace giving off heat, I'm enjoying a good book, and I am giving thanks for God being my wrap-around-shield and Joel walking with me side by side.  In fact twice today two different people made comments about how we hold hands all the time.  Even after so many years.  Yep.  I would not want to do this without him.  I am blessed.